Is Writing for the Rich?

By some lights, this a golden age for writers, who can launch a blog, post their views online and reap the rewards of community, commenters and cross-referencing colleagues... On the web, no bureaucracy makes them wait their turn, no dunderheaded editors hold back their talents.

But for a host of other young writers, there is still the problem of getting paid... It’s not obvious how young writers without accommodating, well-to-do parents or a trust from gramps make it these days. Surely they can’t spend a year or two blogging without pay until an audience evolves to nurture them. They’ll starve. Meantime, freelance rates for non-fluff magazine writing have barely risen in the past 15 years. And the chances of getting a job at a quality newspaper or a serious magazine are fast approaching zero.

There are exceptions... But on the whole, the writing game seems likely to become even more a province of the upper middle class and flat-out wealthy than it is already. The offspring of the affluent, branded college degrees in hand, can afford to give it a go. But anyone hailing from more hardscrabble environs may find it too difficult to get traction before succumbing to the dismal economics of it all.

But movie stars, business executives, even accomplished authors all write for free these days. Why should some kid nobody’s ever heard of get paid?

-- This article by Francis Wilkinson was published in The Week almost four years ago. I bet my small non-existent fortune the situation has gotten a bit more dire. Or perhaps not, depending how disillusioned young would-be writers have become by the whole thing thus making it less competitive for the rest of us.